It seems like just last week the kids were getting out of school and summer days seemed endless. Now it's August and Labor at is just around the corner and yet another fun season in the summer is just about in the books. Before the temperatures start dipping and the leaves start falling, here are a few tasks that can be knocked out quick, allowing you to get back to the final barbeques of summer and the fun task of back to school shopping!
According to Tony Smith, president of Nursery Enterprises, it's time to tidy up your perennials and clear away any dead twigs and branches. Not only will your yard look better for those final barbeque gatherings, you will have a better grasp in understanding your plants' health for next spring. Whether you need a pro or not can depend on the extent of the cleanup and size of your yard. this is definitely something homeowners can save money and take a day and get their hands dirty!
Trust me...you do not want to wait until the coldest day of the year for your furnace to fail! Aside from it being cold, the cost for an after hours, Saturday night emergency call for a specialist is way more expensive than a routine tune up now! It's important to have your furnace inspected now, before temperatures drop. An annual tune-up and inspection will help save you money, maintain comfort and ensure safety. There is really no shortcut for this maintenance, it's best to hire a pro for this task. Keep your eyes peeled, typically HVAC companies run pre-winter specials for this kind of work, when you find a good deal with a reputable company, don't hesitate, appointments fill quickly, call and make yours right away!
Now is a great time to take a moment and check your hose connections to your washing machine. Make sure connections are secure and check hoses to ensure they are in good shape. If you have older black rubber hoses check to ensure they aren't bulging or that they don't look worn. Replacing hoses are easy and can be down by most homeowners. You will first need to shut off the water supply to the hoses. Once the water supply has been cut you can use adjustable pliers to loosen the hose from the water supply, then from the washing machine. If your hoses are made of rubber, now may be the time to consider upgrading them with rupture-proof, braided stainless-steel hoses.
Around August is when wasp activity is at its peak, so you will want to spray to eliminate them immediately if you find a colony. Scan your lawn and watch for activity, once you identify the area apply wasp treatment. This may take several days of treatments. Make sure to walk your property and look for any stagnant water, this can be used as a breeding ground for mosquitos. Make sure to drain any areas holding water, this will likely significantly cut down on mosquito activity. Finally check the seals around your home, including windows, doors and dryer vents. Fill any openings using caulk or expanding sealants. Calling in a professional can be expensive for these tasks, its according to your comfort on handle pesticides and the extent of the problem as to whether you should handle the problem or call in a professional. Do your homework and don't be afraid to ask questions.
Properly functioning gutters direct water away from your home. Clogged gutters can make great homes for rodents and other vermin, just in case your looking for another reason to tackle this task! Water collecting around your home's foundation can seep into your basement and cause foundation issues. A ladder and some gloves can do the job for the most part, but if you're scared of heights, have high or hard to access gutters, this may definitely be worth higher a pro! If you're going to tackle the job yourself, be sure to set the ladder up on stable ground and have another person around to ensure safety.
It's been a long busy summer full of cookouts and grilling. Whether it's walkways, patios or decks, its important to properly clean spots to prevent food, dirt and oil stains from setting in and leaving permanent marks. Start by dusting off the surface. Avoid using overly harsh chemicals, that may cause more damage or tamper the integrity. For longer lasting finish and better protection against stains, grime and sun and winter weather damage, consider applying a sealer appropriate for your surface.
Now it's time to get back to enjoying the last weeks of summer and with the peace of mind that your home is prepped and ready for winter...even if you aren't! it doesn't take much time or money to prevent big problems! Make it a family affair and get your kids involved! You may be surprised at just how much the kids get interested in these tasks!
Here at Fresh Start Homes Michigan, we pride ourselves in giving our clients a new home experience in a pre-owned home. Ultimately its important to make sure you choose the best option for you. At Fresh Start Homes we can help you explore your options and help you to find your next place to call home that fits your needs. For now, let's go through some of the Pros and Cons of each Option!
What exactly constitutes a new home? A new home can range anywhere from finding a plot of land and working to designing your home from start to finish to finding a lot in a new home development with designs to choose from, to finding a new construction home that is complete or almost complete and ready for you to move in such as a model home in a new home development.
A huge benefit to a newly constructed home is that the home is going to be more efficient than an existing home. One reason for this is the recommendations in 2017 for say insulation are much different than they were in 1940! The better the insulation, the lower the cooling ad heating bills. Other potential components may include Appliances, Windows, Heating Systems and AC's. However, as much as it is almost certain that a new home will out preform an existing home in efficiency, it is important to do your homework. Although recommendations and regulations have been greatly improved, there are still a wide variety in available materials and options.
If building from the start, one huge pro is the ability to customize the home to your wants and needs. Existing homes come as they are and can be expensive to make changes that you want such as open floor plans or a redesigned kitchen layout. In addition to choosing the layout, you can choose the materials such as cabinets, flooring and countertops.
Often times new neighborhoods are being developed in areas that are up and coming. Or perhaps your wanting new and modern living in a country setting, you can find a lot that fits your needs and build from there.
Newly built homes have drastically fewer potential for health hazards. Many hazards can be very scary and go undiscovered for many years in existing homes. For example, homes built prior to 1978 are almost certain to contain lead paint which can be hazardous if ingested. Other potential risks include Mold, Radon, Moisture and Asbestos.
Depending on the stage of the new development, it's possible you could be dealing with future construction for quite some time. if your building new in a rural area but not a new development, you have no idea what could eventually be built in that beautiful wooded view you currently have.
There are several types of value when discussing real estate; appraised value, market value, resale value and assessed value. It's important to understand how each may affect you. It's also good to consider the timeframe that you plan to live in the home. For the most part, the resale value of a new construction home is less than the cost of building it. Recently I had a client moving to Michigan from the East Coast. When they sold their home on the East Coast that they had built just 7 years ago for about $475,000, they listed it for $399,900. It's important to understand that unless you plan to stay in your new home for an extended amount of time, it I unlikely you will recoup the entire cost of building the home when it comes time to sell. My client had planned to stay in their home much longer, but unexpectedly got a job offer they couldn't pass up.
The build time can vary greatly from builder to builder, on average you can expect a new home to take 120-150 days. However the time period can be effected by many things that are out of the control of the builder. Weather can certainly add time to the number of days it takes to build a new home, as can your local municipality when trying to obtain permits. In addition, keep in mind, each and every change you make during the process, will likely add time and cost!
Excavation costs can often times cause additional costs during construction. A contractor can not always predict what they may find when they break ground, if the excavation takes longer than anticipated and takes more labor hours than planned, you can bet that expense will be passed onto you. When building new construction, you should always expect additional expenses.
New construction will almost always result in much larger upfront costs for a buyer. Make sure to understand and discuss all upfront costs involved before signing any contracts.
An existing home basically means a home that has been occupied previously, whether it was built in 1905 or it is 2 years old.
When buying an existing home it is much easier to review the neighborhood, such as quality of the local schools, noise levels, crime rate, cell phone and internet reception/connections. It's much easier to assess these items in an established neighborhood than an up and coming neighborhood that isn't established yet. In addition an established neighborhood is much likelier to offer a tree lined, mature and quiet neighborhood.
Charm can certainly be added to new construction, but it's going to come with a hefty price tag. Existing homes can be found that offer hardwood flooring, leaded glass, intricate trim and other characteristics without a hefty price tag.
When buying an existing home you can usually expect to take possession 30-60 days once an offer is accepted. On the other hand a new home will range between 120-150 days on average.
When buying an existing home, in most real estate markets you will be able to get more for your money. Many prime locations are already built up, so an existing home may be your only option in certain school districts or with beautiful views of the lake. In addition you will likely be able to get more upgrades, such as granite countertops or hardwood floors when buying an existing home on a $200,000 budget than a new home on a $200,000 budget. You are also likely to get extra square footage for your money.
If you choose to buy an existing home you will likely have changes you plan to make. Renovations while living in a home can be very stressful and expensive. Sometimes when you start renovating you discover additional things that have to be updated in order to complete the changes you planned on making.
One obvious negative with buying an existing home is that you are likely making compromises on things you had hoped for in your new home. Whether its the floor plan, layout of the kitchen or the size of a closet or bedroom. It's a good idea to have a list of "must haves" and "would likes" before looking for a house. During the buying process you may even update the list, but this way you have a visual of what your wants and needs are and you can review the list before making an offer. You can make the decision then if the updated kitchen is worth sacrificing the basement or the larger bedrooms are more important than a 3rd bathroom.
A third option to consider is finding homes that have been purchased and renovated. At Fresh Start Homes we buy homes in various areas and our construction team reviews each home and determines what needs updated and replaced.
Our construction time reviews big ticket items on each house, such as the roof, AC (when applicable), furnace, water heater and more. Depending on their evaluation they either certify or replace the items.
Each home is renovated form top to bottom. Flooring is either cleaned or replaced. All rooms are typically painted with neutral two toned paint. Cabinets, flooring and countertops are updated or replaced in the kitchen and bathrooms.
Depending on the stage of the renovation of the home, you may be able to have a say in the colors of cabinets and paint colors! We have homes at various stages in various locations, so we can likely find one that meets your needs and timeframe. In addition many of our homes can be sold at various stages if you are hoping to do some of the renovations yourself!
Some homes need extensive renovations, from taking down walls to replacing the roof, but many need light renovations. The benefit is that the homes typically do not take as long as a new construction home, but they are move in ready unlike many existing homes! The cost of the renovations is built into your purchase price, rather than buying an existing home and needing to have additional money to paint, and update things to meet your needs!
The pros and cons discussed are meant to help you decide which option fits you best! Buying a new home, whether it is new construction, existing or a renovated existing home is a very exciting time! Make sure to do your research, ask questions and find a realtor that you are comfortable with and is experienced and knowledgeable. At Fresh Start Homes Michigan we are experienced in all three types of home purchasing. Kim Agemy has worked in new construction neighborhoods for companies such as Pulte Homes for 20+ years, she has sold existing real estate for 20+ years as well and she works with our clients buying our fully renovated existing homes. If you have a question, Kim will be able to help you!
1. CLIMB MOUNT ARVON - Visit Michigan's highest point! You can hike to the top of the mountain and leave a note in the famous Michigan mailbox when you reach the peak.
2. LEARN THE HISTORY OF POLITICS - Take some time to stop by the State Capitol in Lansing and you can participate in a guided tour. You will be able to look inside the House and Senate galleries where laws are made affecting the daily lives of all Michiganders.
3. THE GRAND HAVEN MUSICAL FOUNTAIN - Watch one of the largest water shows of its kind in the world! Watching the synchronized light and water show is a great way to spend a summer evening!
4. STUNNING WATERFALLS - If the musical light and fountain show aren't up your ally, perhaps taking in the splendor of watching millions and millions of gallons of water from high above plummeting to the earth is. Michigan has nearly 200 waterfalls.
5. SHIPWRECK TOUR - See a full-size replica of a ship wreck when you visit Alpena's Great Lakes maritime Heritage Center.
6. GARDEN BEAUTY - Michigan State University hosts the Michigan 4-H Children's Garden. There really is something for everyone here, from dancing wind chimes to gorgeous flower displays to Wilbur the Peacock! Lot's of fun for kids and adults!
7. AU SABLE LIGHT STATION - Truly one of Michigan's most notable light house, the Au Sable Light Station was built in 1874. If Detroit is closer to you, then be sure to check out the William Livingstone memorial Light, it is the only lighthouse constructed fro marble and one of only two erected as a memorial.
8. THE GREAT LAKES CIRCLE TOUR - Definitely not a one day tour, take a road trip with your fail or friends along the scenic road system connecting all of the great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. Cover just part of the tour or take on the entire 6,500 miles!
9.CALVIN ECOSYSTEM PRESERVE - Learn about the sciences and explore the natural world in Grand Rapids around them at the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve.
10. EXPLORE DRUMMOND ISLAND TOWNSHIP PARK - Sure to inspire you to visit the Upper Peninsula time and time again. A great place to hike some truly amazing trails.
Now that I have shared some of m favorites, where do you like to visit in Michigan or what place is on your must see list?
1. EXPLORE DETROIT'S RICH HISTORY - Check out the Detroit Historical Museum. Here you can walk the streets of old Detroit, view the city's first automobile and learn about the Underground Railroad!
2. EXPLORE THE DUNES - Check out why Good Morning America name the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Empire "The Most Beautiful Place in America". The northwest corner of Michigan's peninsula is full of miles of beaches, forests and bluffs ad it is absolutely beautiful!
3. CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS IN JULY - or in any other month for that matter! There are lot's of fun things to do in Frankenmuth, from shopping to eating to exploring, make sure not to miss Little Bavaria!
4. PLAY DISC GOLF - I bet you didn't know that Michigan has over 286 disc golf courses! This is fun for the whole family, check out your area for the closest course, there is sure to be one nearby.
5. VISIT THE MICHIGAN IRON HISTORY MUSEUM - Michigan has a rich history in iron mining, come check out the significant impact it has made on Michigan's economy over time.
6. EXPLORE A NEW BIKE TRAIL - It's no surprise with the many beautiful state park in Michigan that Michigan has over 100 bike trails to choose from, one more beautiful than the next!
7. HANG OUT ON A WARSHIP - Yes, you did not ready that wrong. I am suggesting you take your next date or your children to hang out on a war ship! If you happen to e in Muskegon on a Friday night you can enjoy movie night aboard USS LST 393, a historic warship located in Muskegon, MI.
8. SANDERS CANDY FACTORY - Everyone in the family is sure to enjoy a stop for a sweet treat, while learning first hand how Sander's Candy Factory makes chocolate. Check out the tour in Clinton Township, MI.
9. VISIT THE BEACH - Build sandcastles, rent a paddleboat, play some beach volleyball or just relax in the sun. Michigan is full of hundreds on beaches all with varying activities to enjoy!
10. JAM TO SOME JAZZ - Are you a jazz fan? Visit the Hart Plaza by the Detroit Riverfront and enjoy the city's jazz festival, where you can listen to artists from the past and present!
Comment below and let us know your favorite places to visit!
Buying your first home is exciting, but can also be intimidating! The home buying process involves many different professional industries; including mortgage, real estate, inspection, appraisal, title and insurance. Here is an in-depth look at the entire process to help relieve some of the stress as you enter into the home buying process.
The first question you need to ask yourself is how are you paying for your new home. Buying a home is typically the largest financial decision in your lifetime. More than likely you plan to get a mortgage to pay for your first house. Although this may seem like I am stating the obvious....you would be surprised at home many buyers have a long list of must haves and homes they want to see, before they have spoken to a lender. Lets face it, looking at homes is way more fun than delving into your finances. Most realtors will not begin the process of finding homes with a buyer until they have spoken with a mortgage lender and gotten a pre-approval letter.
Determining the price range you want to be in is crucial! The best thing to do is to determine your price range BEFORE you start looking online at homes. Just because you have been approved for a certain amount, does not mean you have to spend that much! Look at your finances, think about the lifestyle you want to enjoy. A mortgage is a long term commitment, buying a home the maximum amount that your mortgage company will allow...could lead to very frustrating times. When things go wrong such as a roof leak or a burst pipe, you are responsible for fixing it, unlike when you are renting and the owner takes care of things. In addition, do you like to travel, shop, eat out...those extra things could be impossible if you max out your mortgage payment.
Knowing your price range before looking can help set your expectations. Looking at $300,000 homes, but only be approved for $200,000 can make it hard to find something you like....because every home you look at, in your mind you are comparing it to the $300,000 homes. Start your home search at the lower end, see what there is and work your way up. For example starting at $100,000 you may quickly learn that the homes are out of date and need lots of work, or they aren't in the neighborhoods you prefer, or they are too small. Work your way up in $10,000-$20,000 increments until you start seeing homes that may fit your needs.
Your Realtor is the person that you will likely have the most contact with during your home buying experience. They help coordinate all the other pieces and therefore are the most involved professional in your transaction. A good Realtor will help guide you and give you advice on items that you may not even realize are important. For example, many buyers are so excited on becoming a home owner, they aren't thinking about down the road when the sell the house. your Realtor can help give you advice on future resale value, they know the hot markets, growing areas.
So some research online and find an agent that is experienced, has great reviews and has a strong online presence. Neighbors, friends, family....although trustworthy may be a great characteristic, you need to make sure if you are going to use them as your realtor that they meet the other characteristics as well. Trust me, your home buying experience will be better, and your relationship will be better off as well.
Now that you have secured a Pre-Approval letter and mortgage lender to work with, found a realtor and determined a price range.....it's time for the FUN TO BEGIN!
If your moving to a new area, its important to do your research on the schools, crime statistics, neighborhood amenities and convenience in order to narrow down the area(s) in which you would like to live. Next, find 4-6 homes you would like to see and make an appointment with your Realtor. Right now, it is very much a seller's market. Homes are going quick. First time home buyers can sometimes be slow to commit....they see a house they love, but they are worried what may be out there and so they wait, thinking they can always make an offer next week if they don't find something better. Chances are many of the homes that were your favorite in your price range, also landed on other buyers lists. It's certainly ok if your not ready to commit, just be sure that you are ok with "losing" that house.
One thing to realize as well....homes are not always as they appear...in online pictures! Depending on the quality and angles of the pictures, homes can look better and believe it or not WORSE in the online pictures! Pay attention to the house details (square footage, number of rooms, characteristics), these are often times more informative than pictures. You would be surprised at the number of realtors who use old photos are put very little effort into capturing pictures.
You've found your dream home, what's next? Its time to start the negotiations. Your relator will need to write up a sales contract or purchase agreement in order to make an offer. Talk your offer over with your Realtor and don't be afraid to ask questions. First time home buyers sometimes like to submit lowball offers, thinking the seller can always counter. Trust me if your offer is too low, the seller will not even bother submitting a counter offer and by time you realize you need to go higher, they may have already accepted another offer. Great deals typically happen on homes in distress, so unless your plan is to get a home and fix it up, be prepared to be in the general area of market value. Right now the availability is so low many homes are going for more than asking and at times even more than the appraisal amount.
Once you have a accepted offer it is time to order a home inspection. Your Realtor is a great resource for a list of reputable home inspectors, again, just like a mortgage lender, your Realtor should not be compensated in any way for this referral. Once the inspection is completed you will receive a copy of the report. it I the job of the inspector to find every possible issue that they can, even new construction homes turn up lengthy inspection reports. Your task is to read through the list and determine any important issues that will have significant monetary value and determine whether or not you would like to ask for repairs to be done.
This often times begins and new negotiating conversation between the parties. It's important to really determine fixes you feel have a high importance. replacing a cracked light switch cover or new batteries in the smoke detector are nit picky matters that will likely sour the deal. I suggest focusing on items such as water damage, broken appliances, AC/heating repairs or roof issues. dealing with big inspection problems that have large monetary value will likely lead to a more successful negotiation.
Your Realtor should be communicating with all parties and they should ensure that all parties have relevant documentation and information needed in order to close the transaction. If you are asked for something, make sure to act promptly! e sure to communicate with everyone to ensure the closing is moving along and schedule to close on time. Your sales contract has dates and deadlines that have to be met. If you have a contractual closing date and your lender needs additional time the seller has the right to keep your earnest money and put their house back on the market.
Once you are about 1-2 weeks out from the closing date and everyone involved in the transaction has confirmed that it will close on time, you should schedule your final walk through and closing time. A final walk through is standard practice to ensure there are no new major issues that would prohibit you from purchasing the home. If the contract states that all appliances are to stay in the home and you notice one has been removed, then you would need to resolve this issue prior to closing, or cancel the closing and seek legal advice. For this reason it is best to schedule the walk through at least 24 hours prior to closing to allow for any issues to be addressed.
As the buyer you will most definitely have a stack of papers to sign! most closings take about an hour. once you have signed everything the title company will submit the papers to the mortgage company who will then send the funds to complete the transaction. Once the loan is funded you will get the keys! make sure to check with the mortgage company in advance how long this takes. Some of them will fund the loan in advance so that you can receive your keys at closing, but if you have a late afternoon or evening closing the loan may not be funded until the next day!
Once the loan is funded...you will receive your keys and be the proud owner of your first home!
One of the most important decisions a seller makes is selecting a real estate agent. With hundreds of options in most communities, selecting the right one can greatly impact the price and length of time it takes to sell a hone. Don't be afraid to ask for references and make sure to do your research!
You may be asking yourself...what traits should you look for in a real estate agent? The following list important traits of a great real estate agent! Review the list for traits to look for when hiring a real estate agent in order to be successful in selling your home.
After all, honesty is the best policy and it's part of the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics! It may not be possible to know from one or two meetings if someone is telling the truth, but there are steps you can take to prevent blindly trusting an agent! Start with asking for testimonials from past clients. Even better, request five recent sellers contact information. Make sure to take the time to call or email the references, you can learn a lot from past clients!
If an agent is unable to provide testimonials or past clients contact information, they may not being completely upfront with you. It could also mean they have very few or no last clients, which would be concerning as well.
Being your best friend or a relative should not be your sole reason for selecting a real estate agent. it's understandable that people can feel obligated to use a friend or relative, or perhaps they are enticed by getting a discount. with that said, buying and selling a home are two of the largest financial decisions most people will make in their lives. It is certainly ok to choose a friend or relative, but it is critical to make sure to vet them, just as you would any agent. How many transactions have they completed? Is being an agent their primary full time job? Saving a couple of percent commission may not be worth you home sitting on the market longer or selling for lower than its potential. Also make sure your relationship doesn't get in the way of your agent being able to honestly suggest a price or speaking up about things you need to fix or improve.
Technology is extremely important for reals estate agents now more than ever! Research and ask questions about the tools they use when selling a home. it may surprise you how many agents are miles behind in technology. Modern technology helps agents be more efficient and can make the difference of losing out on an offer or missing a deadline. Also, check out the agents current listings, how are their descriptions of each home? Are the pictures clear and enticing? Often times pictures alone can be the deciding factor if a potential buyer will decide to tour your home.
The job of a real estate agent who is representing a seller, in a nut-shell, is to get the most money for their clients home in the least amount of time! A real estate agent should know what to say to a buyers representative and when to say it. A sellers real estate agent should not send a counter-offer from their client back to the buyers representative without any dialogue. If this were the case, what is the need for real estate agents? The sellers real estate agents job is to be the voice of the seller! Generally in life there are people who avoid confrontation and conflict at all costs. If this is the personality of a sellers real estate agent, the seller is likely to not maximize the price they receive for their house!